The phrase “Fear the Lord” has a bit of a negative ring to it.
Fear the Lord.
The atheist hears the ring of it and laughs. The agnostic hears it too, then rolls his eyes and sidles closer to the atheist.
Fear the Lord.
The pragmatist hears it and has heard enough, having no more time for ringing or any other “unusual” sounds. The modern christian fundamentalist, completely inured in rationalism, hears the negative tune and heartily sings along since the phrase happens to be written down in several books of the Bible, wishing he didn’t feel sour in the stomach every time the Lord seems about to take off his belt and whip somebody.
But all are wrong. All are half-brained…the left half. All are weak. All have forgotten how to listen. All are deaf, having ripped off one ear and stuffed the other with themselves. All have muted “Fear the Lord,” which tolls from the land of dreams, the place where everything begins and everything ends, under layers of insulation.
Two bells are ringing, one much larger—much more ancient—than the other. One booms from the depths of existence. One drones eternally with the sound of all sounds. The cracked bell out of which all sounds emerge. “Fear the Lord” rings on.
Fear the lord.
It is to turn away from fearing fear itself. To hear fear itself for the first time. It is to stand at the turning point of your life and look back at all that has come before and all that will come after—in a real sense, see the wholeness of existence— and to only fear ever being the eternal bearer of an improper attitude towards Being again. It is to sit as Job, alone, looking down at the dust. It is to sit as Jonah, alone, listening for the first time. It is to face; to see; to finally turn towards life and realize that you were living IN fear, the same as you were living in air—not seeing the invisible atmosphere you breathed day by day; believing--breathing— not that you were chosen to blaze with light, but that you were chased by blackness; every breath a death rattle—a faint yet distinct wheeze to the world that the pitch or slant of your life would be forever downward, negatively sloped, and rearward facing; unwilling to turn and look into the void because of its blackness; knowing it would win—and then, to hear a ringing in the distance! Then, to rise out of the ashes and reject that life—turn from a life of fear towards the only thing left to face; turn towards the only fear that matters; turn and face the redeemer; then turn again on the axel of the world, dust off your clothes and proclaim to the old, familiar outlines in chalk behind, “I will never be him again! I will never be dead like that again!”
When there is only this to fear, all else vanishes.
Sometimes I feel the cold grip of that old life on my throat, and the terror that that was me, that that was who I was, is real. The only thing I fear is that I would ever forget for whom the bell tolls, and go back to the murder scene and lie down.